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Mortuary Science

Associate of Arts (AA) Transfer Degree

Morticians, undertakers, and funeral directors plan the details of a funeral. They often prepare obituary notices and arrange for pallbearers and clergy. If a burial is chosen, they schedule the opening and closing of a grave with a representative of the cemetery. If cremation is chosen, they coordinate the process with the crematory. They also decorate and prepare the sites of all services, and provide transportation for the deceased and mourners. They also direct the preparation and shipment of bodies’ out-of-state or out-of-country for final disposition. Most morticians, undertakers, and funeral directors embalm bodies (a cosmetic and temporary preservative process through which the body is prepared for a viewing of visitation by family and friends of the deceased).

Funeral service managers oversee the general operations of a funeral home business. In this position, they perform a wide variety of duties, such as allocating the resources of the funeral home, managing staff, and handling the marketing and public relations. Funeral service workers organize and manage the details of a funeral. They typically provide emotional support to the bereaved, arrange for removal of the deceased’s body, prepare the remains (body), file death certificate and other legal documents, and train junior staff.


An associate’s degree in Mortuary Science is the minimum education requirement for morticians, undertakers, funeral directors, and funeral service managers. With the exception of funeral service managers, all workers must be licensed. Those who are licensed as both funeral directors and embalmers and are willing to relocate should have the best job opportunities.


ECC’s Associate of Arts (AA) transfer degree is designed to meet the requirements of colleges and universities to which students may wish to transfer. Some ECC graduates pursue completion of a Mortuary Science Advanced Standing Diploma; in Iowa, that program is offered at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC). Others may transfer to colleges or universities where they can complete a baccalaureate (BA or BS) degree in Medicine, Criminal Justice, or a number of other degree programs.

Because the requirements for an AA transfer degree change periodically, students should check with their academic advisor or the ECC Admissions Office to confirm that they have the most current information. Students are responsible for knowing the requirements for the degree they hope to obtain and for planning their schedule accordingly.

Admissions Partnership Program with Iowa State, UNI and Iowa

ECC participates in the Admissions Partnership Program with Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Iowa to enable ECC students to transfer credits seamlessly to any of the state universities. Participants are dual-enrolled at ECC and the university with access to academic advising and student services at both institutions. The universities guarantee admission into the desired degree program, provided all requirements are met. Ask the ECC Admissions Office for more information!


  • ECC currently has the 17th highest student success rate (graduation rate + transfer rate) of any community college in the nation.
  • The College offers generous scholarships and financial aid packages, which is why our graduates have one of the lowest average student debt loads of any college in Iowa, public or private, two-year or four year!
  • What students appreciate about ECC is our smaller class sizes, which results in more one-on-one attention from the instructor and greater classroom success.


Jim Cheaney

Jim Cheaney

Jim is a native Hoosier from Evansville, IN, although his roots are in Kentucky. He received a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molec...

Jim is a native Hoosier from Evansville, IN, although his roots are in Kentucky. He received a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Mississippi State University and a master’s in Poultry Science with a minor in Reproductive Physiology, also from MSU. Despite being warned about Iowa winters, he moved to Iowa to get...

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